Quebec to limit unions’ authority in construction hiring

New report makes 57 recommendations to prevent union monopoly trades
||Last Updated: 09/15/2011

The Quebec government will table legislation this fall that allows for stricter regulation on the influence of trade unions in the province’s construction industry.

Minister of Labour Lise Thériault released the findings of a task force created to investigate the operations of the province’s construction industry, which has been under scrutiny for the way workers are hired on jobsites.

The central recommendation of the report is that labour unions lose the right to choose the number of workers required on a construction site. The report says that the task force found more workers than necessary were often working on a site. Moreover, the report found that workers belonging to certain unions were being favoured over members of alternative unions.

In Quebec, employers are required to contact the Commission de la construction du Québec (CCQ) when in need of workers. However, this does not always happen. Instead, employers will turn to unions for staffing needs, especially those unions that have a monopoly over certain trades. Because of this, workers feel compelled to join these unions if they want work. Workers belonging to other unions without a trade monopoly are often left without work.

The new rules will provide the CCQ with the effective means to create a roster of trade union workers available to work. Workers will be required to indicate their availability and contractors will have to publish their needs for labour. The workers’ qualification certificates will be made available to employers to give details of their training and experience, but they will not reveal their union allegiance.

In total, the task force makes 57 recommendations to improve working conditions in Quebec’s construction industry, including stricter punishment when employees are faced with threats or intimidation. Should an employee have to deal with harassment, the CCQ can revoke an employers’ licence for up to five years.

The president of the construction component of the largest union in Quebec is criticizing the Minister’s decision to recommend all of the suggestions in the report. Arnold Guerin, president of FTQ-Construction, says that the public should have the right to provide input before the legislation is tabled in the Quebec National Assembly.

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